Brief Encounter: July/August 2007

Pressed into our seats for a standing room only event at the Jewish Museum, a small, grey-haired woman to my right leaned over and whispered in my ear:

“I’ve just come from Carnuntum,” she said conspiratorially. “I’ve been helping on a dig.” I like Roman ruins; I’m sure my interest showed. But I certainly wasn’t prepared for what came next.

“We had a find!” I stared. “Several things actually…”

Breathlessly, she reported that on June 21, her group had uncovered some shards of pottery, a cow horn and, most exciting, a human upper jaw, all thought to date from the first century A.D. A retired art historian from Frankfurt, Ingebord Kranz had seen a number of Greek and Roman archeological sites, but this had been her first time as a participant. They had set out early each morning and continued religiously until 17 Uhr, with hardly a break. At mid day, they had been working in 36-degree heat.

“Now that’s heat!” she exclaimed, still whispering. But she had hardly noticed, she said, it was such a unique experience. Her face glowed.

She was 84 years old.

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